Shenandoah National Park valley views

The last days of our road trip through Virginia, we traveled through Shenandoah National Park. This national park  is created along the mountain ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 
Do you always start singing "Take me home, country roads" as well when you hear that name??  I do!!....let's hymn a bit together...
Country roads, take me home 

To the place I belong 
West Virginia 
Mountain mamma, take me home...

Ok, all crazyness aside, this is a very long narrow park featuring the Skyline Drive which turns for 169 kms on the mountain ridge with views of the valleys on either side and the rolling foot hills.  The highest mountain in the park is Hawskill Mountain of 1235 meters.

The vastness of the nature in the American continent is the reason why I love this destination so much.  I adore the spectacular landscapes that you can often find in the National Parks and that we lack in Belgium (or Europe).  This time I had well aligned my expectations and I knew I shouldn't compare this national park to eg Yosemite National Park, Ca.  These are old mountain tops with limited height. Nevertheless some of the views are maybe not extremely spectacular, yet the sequence of rolling hills in the different sunlights can often be breathtaking.  The park had been created with the goal to give the metropoles of the East Coast access to protected nearby nature. Indeed the park is only a 2 hour drive from Washington DC.  The creation of the park necessitated a controversial moving and disowning of several communities. 

Everything is centered along the Skyline Drive road, which features about 90 stops with viewpoints on the valleys (smaller or bigger pull-out areas and a few campgrounds or visitor centers...depending on the room the landscape has on the ridge there available).

The park boasts spectacular views in any season. We've encountered on our 2 days: thick mist when we first entered, cloudy skies, threatening clouds and then downpours that took away all our visibility as well as abundant sun.  Fortunately we had split our visit in 2 days. Our exit point of the first day was further than the point of re-entry the next day so we've done a part of the Skyline  Drive twice....with success because we spotted bears the 2nd day on places we had seen none the first day and we could see the part that was hidden in the pouring rain and clouds a 2nd time in sunshine. 

Since the park is narrow and 40% is protected as complete wilderness, the possibilities for small easy hikes with the children were rather limited.   I ignore with this statement the fact that the famous Appalachian Trail crosses the Skyline Drive constantly so it is also possible to hike the entire park...but not with toddlers.

So we drove from viewpoint to viewpoint where we did or did not get out of the car for a more extensive viewing. The visit to the park is mainly a sightseeing drive for us.  But a nice and relax one.


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